Passengers wearing protective gear arrive at Incheon airport, west of Seoul, amid the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, as health authorities have imposed an entry ban on foreign arrivals from eight African countries, including South Africa, to block the inflow of the new COVID-19 variant omicron. (Yonhap)
South Korea plans to suspend arrivals of migrant workers with records of recent visits to southern African nations in order to block the inflow of the potentially more contagious omicron COVID-19 variant, officials said Monday.
The labor ministry's plan, which could affect the entry of manual workers from 16 Asian countries, is in line with the earlier restriction placed on foreign arrivals from eight African countries over concerns of the emerging virus variant first reported in Africa.
"The 16 countries are all in Asia, but we are trying to see whether workers themselves or people close to them have traveled to southern African countries to minimize the possibility of infection," a ministry official said.
The ministry is consulting with health authorities over details, such as the duration of the arrival postponement.
The government announced this month it will resume visa issuance to foreign workers from Asian countries under the Employment Permit System in line with South Korea's adoption of the "living with COVID-19" scheme, which calls for the relaxation of monthslong strict antivirus rules. (Yonhap)